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Lambasted LeBron conveniently sees hurtful role of race

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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Apparently, LeBron James just discovered there's racism in America. Welcome, bra'.

'It's always a race factor,' LeBron James says of the public backlash. (Getty Images)  
'It's always a race factor,' LeBron James says of the public backlash. (Getty Images)  
James was on CNN this week talking about the infamous decision to leave Cleveland for Miami, and the subject switched to the massive negative backlash he faced from the public following the announcement.

James didn't blame the anger on his clumsy handling of the disastrous telecast. No. He blamed it on race.

"Do you think there's a role that race plays in this?" James was asked by journalist Soledad O'Brien.

"I think so at times," James said. "It's always a race factor."

James' enabler -- err, sorry -- business partner Maverick Carter chimed in: "It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written."

James isn't wrong; there is truth in his statements. But it's just interesting -- funny, actually -- hearing those words come out of LeBron's mouth.

LeBron James never stood for anything and now he suddenly wants to talk race? Tell me James is clowning us all.

He has previously avoided controversial topics. He has rarely -- if ever -- made any statement of significance about anything. James has gone out of his way to see no evil, hear no evil. Just play ball, make money. That's been James' mission.

There's nothing wrong with that. Making money is the American way.

It's just that now, James is trying to have it both ways. He has catered to corporate America, mostly ignored issues that affect people of color, and then when so many people turned on James, he's now suddenly seeing the racial light.

James has cared about little off the court that couldn't help his financial bottom line. Cleveland players once drafted an open letter to China protesting that country's role in the genocide occurring in Darfur. James refused to sign it, saying he needed more information.

He posed on the cover of Vogue in an Annie Leibovitz monstrosity that portrayed him as the 21st century King Kong, a black brute capturing a helpless white woman. When the controversy erupted into a national debate, James shrugged his shoulders.

James has followed the lead of Michael Jordan, who ignored any societal issue that crossed his field of vision in order to appeal to mainstream America. Jordan did little to address accusations his Air Jordans were being made in parts of Indonesia by 11-year-old girls for 22 cents an hour.

This is the quintessential Jordan story. In 1990 there was a heated North Carolina senate race. It was pseudo-segregationist Jessie Helms versus African-American Harvey Gantt. Helms was running a highly racially charged campaign and it was working. Gantt was looking for support and his supporters approached Jordan. His Jordan-ness declined to get involved and offered this infamous quote: "Republicans buy sneakers, too."

That was Jordan. James has lived his life the same way. Mysteriously, that is, until now.

James is a spoiled kid, living in a bubble. His handling of The Decision proved that. That James is just now "realizing" and publicly preaching race plays a factor in many things that occur in this country is laughable.

James is being blasted for playing the "race card." There's no such thing as a "race card." It's a term invented by extremists who desire to prevent Americans from discussing the thorny topic of race and keep us isolated from one another.

James didn't play the "race card," he's simply being the thin-skinned juvenile he's always been. 'Criticize me, King James?' That's why it had to be racism, right? Because anybody with "King" as a nickname who makes millions playing basketball is certainly above reproach.

LeBron James never stood for anything but now suddenly wants to talk race? Better to be thought a hypocrite than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Jordan, at least, got that memo ... in the form of greenbacks. Apparently the King's currency knows no shame.

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